tv PBS News Hour PBS December 30, 2016 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> sreenivasan: good evening. i'm hari sreenivasan. judy woodruff is away. on tonight's pbs newshour: russian president vladimir putin will not expel american diplomats in response to sanctions imposed by the obama administration. we look at what lies ahead for u.s.-russian relations in a trump presidency. also ahead, the best of 2016 in music. a year of innovation and stunning comebacks, but also, great loss. >> one great thing about when we mourn these singers is that we also always celebrate and archive their work, and we're seeing that. >> sreenivasan: and it's friday. david brooks and david corn are here, to analyze the week's news. all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour.
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diplomats over election-hacking attacks. but, he said, moscow will not toss out u.s. diplomats. instead, he invited the children of american diplomats to holiday parties at the kremlin. and, in a statement, he said russia will plan "further steps to restore relations, based on the policies of the trump administration." later, the president-elect tweeted to say: "great move on delay by v. putin. i always knew he was very smart." we will return to the putin response, after the news summary. and in the day's other news: a fragile cease-fire appeared to hold across syria, despite sporadic shooting. diana magnay of independent television news reports. >> reporter: it's not as though there's no fighting today-- this is a regime air strike earlier on near the city of hama. but nothing so severe that the deal's off, yet. >> ( translated ): there is a real opportunity to reach a political solution for the crisis in syria that ends the bloodshed and establishes the roots for the future of the
country. >> reporter: with the frontlines quiet, people in opposition areas went back onto the streets, just had they done in the early days of the revolution. not that everyone here remembers those days, but the refrain's familiar: a syria without assad, even if the outcome's as unclear as ever. >> if you say, are we happy with assad still in power? of course, we will not be happy, and i tell you that all refugees will not move back unless assad goes away, unless he goes from his position in syria. >> reporter: that will be up to the russians. aleppo was part of this deal, struck between turkey and russia in two months of back and forth talks. with aleppo chalked up for the regime, it's now up to putin to see what pressure he can bring to bear on the syrian president before talks next month in kazachstan, if this ceasefire
holds-- and that's a big if. along its border, turkey is expanding its facilities for refugees, to house the tens of thousands freshly displaced from aleppo through this bitter winter and beyond. russia and turkey are pitching themselves as regional power- brokers, guardians against terror, bringers of peace. high stakes if they fail, but the initiative now is with them. >> sreenivasan: back in this country, a north carolina judge blocked a republican bid to strip the incoming democratic governor of some of his powers. republicans passed the statute after roy cooper was elected. it takes away his control of election boards. cooper sued today, saying the law is unconstitutional. the judge stopped it from taking effect on sunday, pending a review. new numbers confirm that fatal shootings of police rose sharply in 2016. the national law enforcement officers memorial fund reports 64 were shot and killed in the line of duty, up 56% from last year.
the total includes 21 officers killed in ambush-style attacks, in dallas, baton rouge and elsewhere. a winter storm socked new england overnight and today, the region's first strong nor'easter of the season. some areas got as much as two feet of snow. near-white-out conditions hit maine, where snow fell at the rate of three inches an hour in some places. the storm knocked out power to more than 100,000 homes and businesses. and, wall street closed out a winning year on a losing note. the dow jones industrial average gave up 57 points to finish at 19,762. the nasdaq fell nearly 49 points, and the s&p 500 slipped ten. but for the year, the dow gained more than 13%; the nasdaq rose 7.5%; and the s&p was up 9.5%. still to come on the newshour: u.s.-russia relations after president obama imposes sanctions; david brooks and david corn take on the week's news; a year of triumph and heartbreak for music fans, and much more.
>> sreenivasan: we now turn back to the latest in u.s.-russia relations. for insight into putin's reaction to the obama administration's leveling of sanctions against russia yesterday, we turn to andrew weiss. he was director of russian, ukrainian and euraisian affairs at the white house national security council staff. he's now with the carnegie endowment for international peace. so what do you make of putin's reactions? >> vladimir putin is an opportunist and loves being the center of attention. so here he has the entire world talking about his incredible magnanimity and not returning the favor by expelling u.s. diplomats or responding to these sanctions. a couple of months ago when putin was talking about the hacking scandal, he said a to you years ago no one talked about russia, but now it's all they talk about, they say bad things but it's good for us, it's very pleasant. >> sreenivasan: do the
sanctions create deterrents enough to stop russia from doing what it's doing? >> deterring russia from engaging in cyberoperations against the united states is an impossible task. you can shame and hit a few key individuals like the obama administration did yesterday that might expose what russia is doing, provide public education especially on the eve of european elections, that's what governments are doing around the world, they're saying we know what the russians are up to, explaining it to the public and hopefully it won't have the affect it did in the united states. >> reporter: what is the effect of the introduction of the kremlin's children at holiday party? >> i think it's a pattern of u.s. personnel in moscow that goes back for years, apartments broken into, diplomats followed, children bothered, cold war style pressure against the people stationed in moscow.
>> sreenivasan: even in this moment, he sees the long game. >> putin looks ahead and i think sees continued opportunities. he has a new u.s. administration taking office on january 20th, president-elect trump has been saying all sorts of flattering things including as recent as this afternoon about how brilliant putin is, what an effective leader he is. he has seen all sorts of western leaders basically disappear from the scene, obviously barack obama has been a nemesis for him, so if he looks ahead he sees russia's got the upper hand in syria, he's transformed the battle on the ground inside sir i can't he sees a weak ukraine, western europe divided, acenning e.u. he has a sense of wind at his back and confidence that the more audacity, the more surprise, the more the west will back off, and a lot of the aggressive russian tactics we've seen are to be intimidating, unpredictable and your enemies will back off. >> sreenivasan: some dissension among the ranks early
in the morning you hat alerts that said foreign minister lavrov wanted to kick out u.s. diplomats and within minutes vladimir putin sid, no, not going to do that. >> the russians have become mastesmast -- masters at the arf surprise. 14 months ago, president putin was coming to the u.n. general assembly, he was not going to get any meetings. they announced syria and russia was as the center of attention and a showtown between obama and putin in new york. it's where you start a covert war in ukraine, suddenly the world has to respond to the facts you're creating. >> sreenivasan: particular the prospects for the relationship creating with the united states? >> we don't know. trump said he's going to team up with russia to knock the hell out o of i.s.i.l.
there have been many efforts in the past year between the obama administration and the russian government to find ways to cooperate on the ground in syria. we have serious definitional challenges where there are groups that the united states supported on the ground that the russians want to payment with a brush and say they're all terrorists. so it's hard given the mistrust between the two governments. no trust between the national security establishment, the career people serving under president trump and counterparts. it will be difficult to develop trust. >> sreenivasan: what is the cost of the win in syria and i.s.i.l? >> russia is saying the united states should recognize the annexation of crimea and pay a penalty for the impocigs of economic sanctions after the shoot countdown of the civilian airliner over eastern ukraine in
2014. these are outlandish demand and would be unusual to expect the trump administration will grant the wishes. >> sreenivasan: are there concerns the trump administration doesn't see the multiple dimensions of vladimir putin? >> i think we don't know. we know this is a president-elect who has very little foreign policy experience. he's tapped a neophyte to be his secretary of state, rex tillerson. these are people who have records in the business community, they have a lot of credentials in that area, but for the issues that have been at the heart of u.s.-russian relations in the past two and a half decades and which have created so mention tension and built-up resentment and distrust, it's not something they've had to deal with. >> sreenivasan: you call rex tillerson a neophyte. he's a neophyte to government, but not necessarily foreign affairs. hoe might be the best person with connections to russia in the trump administration. there are no doubt his accomplishments in russia are dramatic. he's worked in russia at the highest levels going back to the
late '90s, he knows putin personally and top advisors personally. that's a real asset. the question is does he know a lot about the i.n.f. treaty, the harassment of u.s. diplomatic personnel, follow syria closely, my sense is those are issues he has not had to delve into in great detail. >> sreenivasan: andrew weiss, afternoon gi endowment for international peace, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: next, to the analysis of brooks and corn. that's syndicated "new york times" columnist david brooks, and mother jones washington bureau chief david corn. david, let's start some of the unilateral steps president obama has taken in the last few weeks. we are talking about everything from the russian sanctions to the u.n. security council condemnation or allowing the u.n. security council to go forward in the condemnation of the israeli settlements, preserving large swaths of land. as the "new york times" said, is
this about boxing trump in? >> i guess, but what can be done by a president can be undone bia president. what's remarkable in the israel and russia cases, you've got a u.s. citizen donald trump siding with a foreign leader against the u.s. president. there is a reason why president-elects have tried to remain mute during their transitional periods relatively because you don't want to be for some other country against your own government, and especially when you're about to take the helm of that government. and there will be a lot of permanent people who will be stuck there who are now in a war between the president-elect and the guy they're currently serving. >> sreenivasan: david corn does this violate the smooth transition the gentlemen had in the white house? >> president obama is still president and the the world keeps turning. the republicans wanted to call his presidency over in last february when he nominated merrick garland to the supreme court. the u.n. sanction vote came up, he wasn't scheduled by obama, and a lot of people think he
should have responded to the russian hackings of the u.s. elections months ago. so these happened on his watch. there's nothing wrong with him dealing with it. the trump side now seems to be whining he's violating the smooth transition and trying to de legitimize the trump. but coming from trump who pushed the birth conspiracy theory against obama, i think obama has been a gentlemen and has no reason to bother with trump. >> sreenivasan: is there a reason to leave an exclamation point at the end on your way out? >> when george w. bush left, he left barack obama two raging wars, and the biggest fight he had was inside his own government whether or not to pardon scooter libby, and he was confumed sighting be dick cheney about that and didn't do a lot externally. i think he was focused from a
national security perspective to bring obama and his people up to speed so they could take control of these wars. bill clinton had the controversy with pardons when he was walking out the door, mark rich and others, that certainly tarnished his reputation. but i think obama is doing what he should be doing at this point. >> sreenivasan: it seems there is a first 100 day strategy and at the end of four or eight years the last hundred days to do the things you wish you could have done and this is on your way out. >> there is a ton as they try to jam everything in at the end, that's reasonably standard, but there certainly is a pattern of administrations that have good transitions. george w. bush to barack obama and administrations that have really bad transitions. i would say this looks like a bad transition as they argue even at the presidential level which is more or less unprecedented. >> sreenivasan: talking about russia, will the sanctionings we've imposed keep the russian
hackers out? >> no. it's so disproportionate. they interfered in our elections and we penalized a few of them. what they're doing underground, we don't know. this will be a big issue. the trump position is, a, mystifying but,b, doomed. he has a nice putin romance going now. i think we need to get outthe hankies because this will turn into an ugly relationship soon. the things that make them simple will turn them into bitter and dangerous enemies. we'll look back on this moment as a moment of bitter irony when they get into a school yard display with each other amping up eat other's war tendencies and putting the two countries in a scary position. that's my feel. >> that may be the best-case scenario. i don't necessarily see things going that way. i'm still mystified about why trump is out there tweeting
praise of vladimir putin these days and denying and dismissing whether the hacking happened or the seriousness of it. and people keep asking what is behind this bromance? before the election, i reported on a story about a counterintelligence officer from another service sending reports to the f.b.i. saying that his sources in russia were saying that moscow tried for years to cultivate and co-op donald trump. i'm not saying that happened. i'm saying i hope the f.b.i. took a strong look because it is hard to believe that a president-elect would be so callous in how he approaches this issue and so dismissive of the seriousness of it. so maybe he'll turn on putin, as you suggest, but maybe there is something else there in which h he is enamored with putin for some reason that we really don't understand yet. >> sreenivasan: what about the president-elect's position that we've got to move on? these are all essentially ploys to delegit mice my win?
>> i think he should be delegitimized for very many reasons, and the response to this hacking is a reason for the delegitimization. it would be so easy for him to say this is terrible, we'll look into it and we'll try to prevent this from happening again in the future, but his denial of it happening or the seriousness shows there is something amiss from his end of it. >> sreenivasan: david brooks, what happens in that conversation with intelligence officials that donald trump said he is going to take in order to get to the bottom of this or a common set of statics? it's already a fairly tense relationship with the intelligence community. >> of course, i don't know what's going on in the mind of trump but i know one of the things president obama was struck by is how much time he spent on cybersecurity was one of the bigger surprises as
president and he said in the years ahead the president will be spending more time cybersecurity won't go away. it's a constant flow and russia has advanced attack on u.s. businesses and u.s. foft and u.s. institutions and it's not like donald trump is going to be walking away from. this h he will be spending a lot of time on it if he's any sort of normal president. >> maybe, we don't know. he keeps dismissing the seriousness and even tweets a statement saying, yeah, computers, it's kind of complicated, you know, a lot of things happen. it remains to be seen what he is serious about on any policy level. >> sreenivasan: speaking of policy level, one of the things that we saw was that the u.n. security council was allowed to go forward with the condemnation of yirltz sessments that the united states did not use its veto power. right move? >> i think it's a policy that's very defensible in that, right now, the settlements are a complete obstacle or threat to a two-state solution.
i think that netanyahu and the far right of israel don't believe in a two-state solution and they can't come out and say it yet. donald trump's designated ambassadors have said that quite clearly, but if there's no-state solution then israel is on the path to being an occupying nation without full political rights for all its inhabitants and, you know, there have been other israeli leaders who have talked about the prospect of a form of apartheid in israel. so i think the obama position and the majority of position of american jews a and a lot of americans is a two-state solution. settlements get in the way of that. if not stopped soon, there is no prospect for that type of solution. >> i disagree. settlements are about the fifth or sixth most important obstacle now. the fact there could be an i.s.i.s. west bank, the fact the palestinian government in gaza doesn't recognize israel's right to exist.
constant terror, leg myization campaigns in the palestinian schools, these are facts. for the obama administration to focus on this one fact almost not to the expense but to diminish some of the other more important ones is to cast all the blame on israel and take the u.n. policy toward ills which has been long-standing and surrender to it. netanyahu offered to go to a two state solution, palestinians didn't take him up on it. we've had a series of these offers. the settlements are not the keystone. it seems to be myopic and bizarre that at the last moment the obama administration would surrender the balance of policies obstacles to peace and focus on the one most detrimental to israel. >> i think john kerry's speech was about the whole large path to peace and what's been happening to it. it was one of the most thorough policy statements you've seen from a secretary of state on a
contentious issue. the vote was obviously not scheduled by the administration. i'm sure they would have ratherred it had not happened but i think they want to send a clear signal because they don't believe netanyahu is serious about a two-state solution and the rap it expansion to have the settlement is something that could be stopped and may not even be up for negotiation but would be a good unilateral move on israel's part. >> sreenivasan: what about the choice of david freed been as ambassador? >> that shows how polarized the situation has become because the obama administration is focused on the onus on israel and the settlements, and then the trump potential administration apparently is pro settlement and almost against a two-state solution, so we've got two polar opposite israel policies, which really break what had been a pretty decent bipartisan consensus that we have a two-state solution, we know what the border and east jiewmplez will look like and no
administration said as the obama administration implied that israel wouldn't have access to the wall, to east jerusalem, and that was also in the resolution, and all administrations have not gone on the u.n. train. so we're seeing a bifurcation to two wrong israeli policies. >> sreenivasan: does it matter the u.s. is not a part of what the cease fire is in syria at the moment? >> i think it matters. if you withdraw from the game, you're out of the game. we've withdrawn from the game. we said assad has to go, he's going to stay. so we're out of the game. burr that's our choice to withdraw. >> we were behind two cease fires this year, one in february and one in september that lasted about a week. we have no idea how long this will last. there's a great possibility someone on the rebel side will start fighting amongst themselves because some of the rebel groups, the more
fundamentalists, are not part of the cease fire. so if there is anything that stops the fighting and stops the civilian casualties, tats a good thing for a pause, but i'm not very optimisticthis is going to last and i do think john kerry has tried awfully hard to work with russia and others to have a lasting significance cease fire. >> sreenivasan: david corn and david brooks, thank you so much. >> happy nur year. >> sreenivasan: stay with us. coming up on the newshour, another look at the newest edition to the national mall: the national museum of african american history and culture; and, songwriter josh ritter opens up about the doubt he feels on stage. but first, a broader look at music, and some of the best work of this past year. as we say goodbye to 2016, we also finish our week-long series on the best of arts.
jeffrey brown is our guide once again. >> brown: of all the popular art forms we've talked about this week, delving into the huge and diverse world of music necessarily means touching on just a slice of the large pie. two music critics are here to help us with some of their own best of the year. ann powers of npr and mikael wood of the "los angeles times." welcome to both of you. a few albums dominated the the year. >> beyonce's lemonade was a multimedia phenomenon with the visual side, a wonderful album and people talked about it all year, very political album. ♪ so i find you and hold you down ♪ ♪ they don't love you like i love you ♪ ♪ slow down >> right next to that was david bowie's black star as equally lauded and celebrated. of course, we lost david bowie this year. so it was an interesting mix of a young artist at the top of her
game and an elder making a final statement. ♪ ♪ >> brown: mikael wood, let's start to fill out your list here. give us a few of what stood out for you. >> beyonce and bowie are both on my list. you have the young country singer maren morris who was doing a lot of things, taking country into an old fashioned way but making it contemporary at the same time. ♪ ♪ ♪ you had a couple of great hip-hop records from kanye west who everybody knows, of course, but a younger rapper from chicago called chance the rapper who made a sort of gospel rap record that's very personal but clearly situated in his hometown and all of its various struggles, a very interesting record. ♪ ♪ ♪
>> brown: all right, so, ann, i made you starred with the ones everybody knows. fill out a little more of your top five list or so. >> well, speaking of country singers there's a wonderful young singer out of nashville, margo price, who made a traditional country record called midwest farmers daughter with contemporary verb and voice and it's one of my favorites of the year. >> brown: good title, midwest farmer's daughter. >> she is a midwest farmers' daughter. it is country and cool. ♪ turn back the clock on the cruel hands of time ♪ >> i really love chance the rapper which mikael mentioned. and solange knowles released an
introspective album called "seat at the table" we reflected the political moment in a different way. solange was quiet and thinking and meditating and dreaming and that was actually npr music's number one record of the year. ♪ they say the truth is ♪ they don't understand what it means to me ♪ >> brown: mikael, i want to bring in performances. we're talking mostly about recordings. but was there a performance or two that stood out for you this year? >> i think beyonce at the super bowl. >> reporter: she's inescapable in this conversation. >> she's the essence of inescapability. it wasn't actually's beyonce's super bowl this year, it was coldplay's, and all anyone remembers is beyonce which shows you how she stole the show. i think adele's tour.
in a year when pop was technologically forward looking and engaged in politics, here comes adele with a super old-fashioned show. i saw her in the same week i saw barbara streisand. the two were similar. she's standing on the stage with a small orchestra, wears one dress throughout the night. very little spectacle. she's just standing there singing these incredible songs and making a huge impact with all her tens of thousands of people who came to see her. just an outlier but also interestingly old fashioned. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> brown: ann powers, performances you say? >> actually along similar lines to adele i think the dixie chicks comeback was a huge story of the year. not a technological futuristic show but a triumphant return of a band who had, of course, been
somewhat banished from country music after their lead singer natalie maines made remarks about then president george w. bush. they have come back roaring back. i saw them play here, a hometown show, tens of thousands of people, mostly women singing along, and, of course, the dixie chicks brought beyonce on at the c.m.a. awards to do beyonce's song daddy lessons and that was the most televised moment of the year, a super women power moment. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> brown: mikel, when you think about trends in the music world, and we'll have to mention beyonce, because this continuing evolution of the distribution of music, she was part of that this year, but other people, too.
>> yeah, 2016 was the year streaming became the dominant sort of way that people are ex p personsing music, at least young people. and you sa that with record after record, whether kanye or beyonce, rihanna, drake, people were finding out about music and listening to it, engaging with it through streaming. we'll sort of see where that takes everything. we'll sort of see what that does to the way people listen, but there was just absolutely no doubt that that was the dominant distribution model this year, and also it leads to all kinds of interesting conversations about, you know, various exclusives, the singer frank ocean, you can only go to one place to hear his record, which changes the whole economy of pop music which i think will be huge the next few years. >> brown: finally the one thing you alluded to with the passing of david bowie, but this was a year in which a number of major musicians, major stars were lost. >> absolutely. bowie's death at the beginning of the year. of course, the greatest musician
of my generation prince died this year, we're still feeling that. leonard cohen we lost. the soul singer sharon jones, guy clark, merle haggard in the country world in nashville. one great thing about when we mourn these singers is that we also celebrate and archive their work. there is more david bowie material online than ever before and though he is lost, his music lives on and we are preserving it as fans and that, to me, is a great legacy. >> brown: all right, music of the past and of 2016. ann powers of npr, mikael wood of "the los angeles times." thank you both very much. >> thanks so much. happy to do it. >> sreenivasan: as we close out 2016, we've been thinking of the loss of our friend and colleague, gwen ifill, and one of her favorite stories of the past year was the opening of the
widely acclaimed national museum of african american history and culture. here's a reprise of that story. gwen in the field, doing what she loved to do and having fun in the process. take a look. >> ifill: joyce bailey's legacy turned out to be worth more than money. her mother, lois alexander lane, left her a treasure trove from the museum she created, the harlem institute of fashion: costumes-- dresses sewn and worn by slaves, celebrities and by civil rights icons. >> one of the things i think people are surprised to know, or to remember, is that rosa parks was a seamstress. >> yes she was. she was actually carrying the dress that the museum now has, on the day that she was arrested. it's a beautiful yellow with brown stripes in it. and it's really beyond belief. you really just have to see it. >> ifill: beginning this
weekend, thousands of people will stream into the brand new national museum of african american history and culture to see elements of bailey's collection and countless other priceless artifacts. there is this-- an airplane flown cross-country to the museum, once piloted by the all- black tuskegee airmen; the casket of 14-year-old emmett till, lynched in 1955 for whistling at a white woman; the writings of abolitionist frederick douglass; shackles discovered on a sunken slave ship that brought hundreds of slaves to america; and, from a south carolina plantation, a fully restored slave cabin. the dress marian anderson wore when she sang at the lincoln memorial, and costumes from "the wiz," the all-black broadway musical based on the wizard of oz, donated from joyce bailey's collection. this is as an amazing place: chock-full of the expected. and the expected. one thing missing: major artifacts from civil rights leader martin luther king, jr., whose family apparently decided
to hold on to some of the most famous memorabilia, including the bible that president obama use to take his oath of office in 2013. in any case, it fell to museum director lonnie bunch and his band of curators to sort through what turned into a rush of donations. >> when i saw them, i said, we are going to tell that story. and i just love, from "the wiz," i just love how they look; i just think they're so distinctive. they obviously speak volumes about geoffrey holder. >> ifill: the designer. >> the designer. plus, they're just so beautiful. >> ifill: it was a big moment at the time. >> absolutely. >> ifill: from sobering memorabilia like rebellion leader nat turner's bible, to 20th century musical memories, chuck berry's cherry red cadillac, and parliament funkadelic's iconic mothership-- here, lit up and sheathed in plastic in preparation for the opening. >> during concerts, it would come down, and george clinton would get out, so it'd be this notion that he was from another planet.
>> ifill: which he kind of was. >> which he still is. >> ifill: the $540 million project-- a century in the making, and the first green museum on the national mall-- captures the sweep of african american history. so what do we have here? >> this is one of my great treasures. what i love is what my staff is able to find. and this is a playbill from newcastle, england in 1857 that is from ira aldridge's career. ira aldridge, the great black thespian that couldn't get jobs in the united states as a great actor, classical actor, had to go to europe. >> ifill: othello, who everyone now thinks of as a character always played by a black actor. >> exactly. but it was always in blackface. >> ifill: galleries are devoted to breakthroughs in sports, and performance. >> the joy of prince, and i love the michael jackson fedora, just capture that. and obviously the soul train costume. >> ifill: soul train costume is a little alarming. >> it is. because we thought that was cool. >> ifill: we, i don't know about we. speak for yourself.
this is cool! bunch, a former president of the chicago historical society, shepherded the project to completion, wooing congress for half the money, and soliciting private donations from millionaires like oprah winfrey and philanthropist david rubenstein. but he also appealed to individuals, families, churches, fraternities and sororities, who handed over gems like james baldwin's inkwell, and malcom x's tape recorder. advance tickets flew out the door-- 5,000 of them in 18 minutes, one day. on this journey you have been to get to this point with this museum, what has been the biggest surprise for you along the way? >> i think i've been stunned by the excitement and the way people really care. i mean there are times i'll walk in an airport and people will just sort of give me the thumbs up, or i'll walk down the street and church ladies will come to me and say they're praying for me. so i think the fact that this means so much to so many people has been the biggest surprise for me. >> ifill: as with other
smithsonian museums, one building cannot begin to hold its collection. conservator antje neumann has helped preserve the collection at the museum's facility in a washington suburb. >> there's always the balance between preservation and exhibition, and allowing the public to see the national treasures, and then also balancing that with preserving it for future generations. it's lovely to have a place to highlight the struggles, the causes and the progression that many people-- and the contributions-- that many people have done in this country. >> ifill: it falls to neumann to repair shaquille o'neal's size 20 shoe, to prepare a stool from muhammad ali's gym, to restore worn pages of the first book of black poetry, and, to spiff up funk singer bootsy collins' bright yellow leather costume. >> it just needs a little bit of cleaning in order to make it ready for presentation, as it has been used a lot on stage.
>> ifill: collins' outfit occupies a place of honor inside the new building, which is a work of art itself. "the corona", the signature exterior feature is made of 230 tons of bronze-colored aluminum panels, 3,600 in all. lead architect phil freelon oversaw the building's striking design: >> many of the buildings on the mall are marble, granite, concrete, lighter in color. this building has a variation in how it appears. on certain days, on certain lighting conditions, it can be very vibrant and bright. and other times of the day or evening, it is darker. so there is this interesting dynamic of changing appearance of the building. >> ifill: within view, the washington monument and even a glimpse of the white house, which first lady michelle obama famously noted was itself built by slaves. bunch says this makes race an integral part of the american experience.
but in this country, we are so nervous about talking about race, about engaging. we keep having national conversations about race, and it seems that this building itself is a big conversation. do you-- did you encounter along the way, any resistance to the notion that we talk about americans only by race? >> i think there was fear that we would be a place that might be divisive. that people wouldn't want to talk about race, and that we would force them to talk about race. i think there was a great concern that, would this just be a museum by black people, for black people? and i think we had to counter that, both by the kind of stories we told, by the way we tried to say, this is a story of america through an african- american lens. >> ifill: joyce bailey's mother could not have foreseen this day, but she did see the value of preserving black history. lois alexander passed away in 2007.
leaving her daughter with a window into history. >> ifill: but weren't you a little emotional about letting it go? >> i was very happy about letting it go, because i knew my mother's legacy would continue. >> ifill: curators think about legacy too. lonnie bunch is still looking ahead. >> i want to make sure that curators 50 years from now can tell the story of today, if that's what they want to tell. so i hope this museum will continue to evolve, continue to change, because it really has to be a place that is the great convener, that can bring anybody and everybody into a conversation around race. >> ifill: from ground breaking in 2012-- >> there are few things as important and powerful as people in the nation steeped in its history. >> ifill: --to open doors this week. america preserved. america celebrated. right in the nation's front yard. >> sreenivasan: a last look at one of gwen ifill's-- and our-- favorite stories from 2016.
>> sreenivasan: we looked at the best books of 2016 earlier this week and both our guests agreed, a standout this year was a book that examined the cascading impact poverty has on housing. jeff is back with this reprise. >> brown: every year in this country, families are evicted from their homes, not by the tens of thousands or by the hundreds of thousands, but by the millions. that from a new book, that explores a huge but little- explored phenomenon in america today. "evicted: poverty and profit in the american city," follows the lives of eight milwaukee families, black and white. author matthew desmond lived among them in 2008 to 2009. he's a sociologist, a professor at harvard, and a winner of a macarthur fellowship, last year. welcome to you. >> thank you. >> brown: that eviction is far
more prevalent than most people think and far less part of the discussion around poverty in this country. why do you think that's the case? >> i think we focus a lot on jobs. we focus a lot on mass incarceration, welfare reform. but housing has been left out of the debate a little bit. we focused on public housing and we focused on neighborhoods, but the private rental market where the vast majority of low-income families are living, has been largely overlooked. but here is this market, that's taking most of what low-income families are making. there's a-- >> brown: an incredible amount, percentage of income. i mean, that's really striking. >> yes. >> brown: 70, 80, 90%. >> yeah, that's what i saw when i was living with families in milwaukee. and we reached a point today that we know that the majority of low-income renters are paying most of what they have, just on rent and to keep the lights on. >> brown: i said you followed eight families. pick one person, to explain just how people fall into this and how hard it is to get out of it? >> yeah, yeah. i'm thinking of arlene. you know, arlene was a single mom, she had two young boys and when i met her, she was living in a pretty rundown apartment in
a low-income neighborhood and giving 88% of her income on rent. and you know, she was facing terrible choices. you know, should i buy food or pay the rent? should i contribute some money to the funeral or pay the rent? and someone like arlene, eviction isn't necessarily the result of some irresponsibility; it more inevitable. >> brown: they're making some bad choices, but you're showing how it's, kind of, almost a vicious cycle, right? of the eviction playing into those choices. >> yeah, for someone like arlene that's paying almost everything you have to the landlord, a very small divergence can invite eviction. the book opens with her 14-year- old hitting her car with a snowball, you know, and the man jumping out and kicking in the door, and that causing the landlord to evict the family. you know, was that a bad choice? eviction isn't just a condition of poverty, it's also a cause of it, it's making things worse. >> brown: you show the rawness of what an eviction is. i mean, you capture what it looks like. describe that. i mean, take an example of what, perhaps, struck you, even the first time you actually saw what
that's like, when you see everything thrown out of the house. >> i remember seeing arlene get evicted in early january. it was the coldest day on record in milwaukee. you know, the weathermen said it would be 40 degrees below, with the wind chill. and seeing a family's things piled on a curb, seeing children forced from the homes, seeing the things taken by movers and put in bonded storage, and often, kind of, taken to the dump when families can't keep up with those payments-- it's a violent act, eviction. it can leave a deep mark. and we know it leaves a mark on families that experience it. >> brown: it leaves a mark in terms of, obviously, their budget, but a psychological mark is what you're really documenting. >> yeah, that's absolutely right. it affects your spirit. you know, we know that mothers who are evicted, two years later have higher rates of depression. we know that suicides attributed to evictions or foreclosures doubled between 2005 and 2010. so eviction not only causes you to lose your home and your
things and your community, but also has deep effects on the way you see yourself and your mental health. >> brown: you also got a couple of landlords to talk to you and let you follow them around. >> i thought that was crucial. i thought if i really wanted to understand how housing is causing poverty in america, i needed to get landlords' perspectives. i didn't understand why they evicted me but not you; i needed to understand what makes them tick. and there is a business model at the bottom of the market. and the one thing i found that surprised me was that landlords that are operating in very poor neighborhoods can make a decent profit, an extreme profit, in some cases. >> brown: the eviction becomes part of the profit, right? i mean, it can be, it can be beneficial to them to evict somebody, bring somebody else in, not put much into the actual rental property. >> that's right. for some landlords, eviction is costly and it does take money, but for others, it's part of the business model. you know, and the short answer to that is, it's more efficient to evict the family than to keep up payments, or to keep up maintenance on your property.
and you can do that because families are so strapped, they're giving so much of their income to rent, that if they call a building inspector to report a housing problem, then they can evict that family. not because retaliatory evictions are legal, but because you can, at any time, evict a family who are behind. >> brown: you also write about your own experience in doing this, right? trying to see how they live, almost trying to live as they live. did you feel satisfied in the end, with what you were able to do? because you also write in the book, afterwards, of how heartbreaking a lot of this is to see, and the personal toll it took on you. >> i learned, not only about pain and denial of basic human needs, but i also learned about humor, and strength and courage in the face of massive adversity, and it did have an effect on my life, personally. i think the stories that i write about also buoyed me, you know, and left me with a deep sense of thankfulness and just an impression that the people i met in milwaukee refuse to be
reduced to their hardships. they're so much more than that, but the extent of poverty in our cities today is reducing people born for better things. >> brown: let me ask you, finally, about what should be done. you do, at the end, advocate for a few things, including creating a kind of universal housing voucher. what would be the single most important thing you would like to see happen? >> i think we, as a nation, need to figure out, do we believe that housing is a right in this country? you know, and i think that we should answer yes because, without stable, decent housing, everything else falls apart. and i think, taking this program that's already working, housing vouchers, so instead of paying 88% of your income to rent, arlene would only pay 30% of her income, and she could take that voucher anywhere she wants, as long as her housing isn't too expensive or too shoddy. that would fundamentally change the face of poverty in america today, and we could make evictions rare again, and decrease family homelessness. but only if we as a country, kind of accept that housing is central to human flourishing and economic mobility.
>> brown: all right, the book is "evicted: poverty and profit in the american city," >> sreenivasan: songwriter josh ritter did not make our critics' list of the best of 2016, but he also had a good year, on tour and recorded songs for the film "the hollars." we caught up with ritter in washington, playing at the 9:30 club, in our latest edition of "i.m.h.o.: in my humble opinion." ♪ the air is getting colder now and the nights are getting crisp ♪ i first tasted the universe on a night like this ♪ a box of wine, an alibi and the hunger in her eyes ♪ in the place where the tree of good and evil still resides ♪ >> i have been writing songs and playing music for almost 20 years. i began in my childhood bedroom,
moved on to open mics, and then to opening for larger artists. and now i get to play my own shows in venues around the world. i'm not rihanna, but i've always considered myself to have a healthy, growing career. ♪ she said, "show me what you got, babe ♪ i'm not like other girls" just give me your bad self ♪ and a place for us to make a stand, and i can move the world ♪ lift the valley from the floor, honey little town into the sky ♪ they'll say that it's a miracle ♪ and you know damn well they're right ♪ i get to make the music i want to make, with the people i want to make it with. i've sold out some theaters you've heard of, and my family and i live a comfortable life. "enjoy this time," those close to me say, "it's all happening for you." and yet, at the strangest moments, i find it impossible to do anything of the sort. in the middle of a show, sometimes in the middle of a clause itself, i find myself certain that my wonderful audience will suddenly realize that i'm a fake, and that my music has been terrible all along. will their collective realization come during the show itself, causing a slow hemorrhage of silhouettes
passing through the exits, never to return? or will people be kinder, stay dutifully to the end, and then shake their heads softly with friends as they trail down the street? what of my band? what of the people i work with? how long until they see that i'm a sham? it's thoughts like these that rob joy from the very moments joy is most abundant. so here is how i'm trying to approach such thoughts these days. i'm trying to remember that while i'm an artist, i am many other things as well. i'm a father, a partner, a brother, son, and friend; these are all roles that i will fill, even if the bottom suddenly falls out of my career. i think about my heroes, folks like leonard cohen and neil young and radiohead, who have followed their inspiration to forbidding places, making some of their finest, most adventurous work, without reassurance of any kind that it would be appreciated, or understood. self-doubt is a very persistent and difficult feeling to overcome. often i find it impossible to write because of it. nothing feels correct, nothing feels new.
perhaps i don't have anything to say, so i shouldn't say anything at all. during this time, i try to surround myself with the unfamiliar, movies, books and music that i don't normally listen to. in those moments, when i fear that i'm losing my joy to mediocrity, self-delusion and doubt, i am trying to open up my heart for the future. i don't know what will happen in my life, i have no idea what will become of the next album, the next show, the next song. all i know, is that with the future comes the chance for many great and wonderful things to happen. it is that future to which i must turn. it's hard work, but i'm trying hard. ♪ homecoming ♪ homecoming ♪ home, coming home, coming ♪ homecoming
>> sreenivasan: on the newshour online right now, poet shelley girdner had had a very tough year when her poem, "new year's day," suddenly came to her, offering her a blank page to start over. hear her read that poem on our web site, www.pbs.org/newshour. as the obama presidency comes to an end, we begin a series for the first two weeks of january: "the obama years," a look back at his terms as president, the accomplishments and the failures. we start on monday, reviewing his efforts to preserve america's natural lands and waters by turning them into monuments. "washington post" white house bureau chief juliet eilperin puts obama's actions into context. to lgbt history, women's history and native american history.
>> a look at the obama years starting monday. >> sreenivasan: a look at "the obama years," starting on monday. tonight on "washington week," more on how the obama administration's actions against russia, and the war of words over the stalled middle east peace process, have created tensions between the outgoing president and the president- elect. later tonight, on "washington week." on pbs newshour weekend saturday, a war reporter grapples with p.t.s.d. after extensive time covering the war in iraq and the aftermath of terror attacks. tomorrow night on pbs newshour weekend. and we'll be back, right here, on monday, when we start our series, "the obama years." that's the newshour for tonight. i'm hari sreenivasan. have a great weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your financial future. >> bnsf railway. >> xq institute.
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